New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) received some leniency in his grade. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The Jets have officially reached the quarter mark of the season. Here is how Gang Green has fared at each position through the first four games:
Quarterback, B-: Geno Smith has displayed the kind of arm strength, mobility, and poise that gets fans excited about the future. But this grade reflects Smith’s current performance and it’s hard to ignore eight interceptions and three fumbles. Some leniency is granted for learning on the job but the mistakes need to be corrected sooner rather than later.
Running Backs, B+: After a poor showing in Week One, the running game has become a strength for the Jets offense. Bilal Powell has shined in the absence of Chris Ivory and the group should get even stronger with the return of Mike Goodson from his four-game suspension.
Wide Receivers, C: There have been far too many inconsistent efforts and disappearing acts from the receiving corps. Their performance in New England was about as bad as it gets. Staying healthy and a lack of depth have been an issue as well. Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes both left Sunday’s game with injuries so someone will need to step up if they’re forced to miss any time.
Tight Ends, B+: Kellen Winslow leads the team in receptions and has been a solid offseason pickup for Gang Green. It would be nice to see Jeff Cumberland get a few more passes thrown his way as the receivers continue to struggle.
Offensive Line, C: Only the Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed more sacks than the Jets. Part of that can be attributed to Smith holding onto the ball too long but not all of it. The line has provided solid protection in the running game but needs to do a better job in the passing game. Penalties have also plagued the group and need to be reduced considerably.
Defensive Line, A+: The front line has been the backbone of the team. Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the best in the league at his position and Sheldon Richardson has shown a lot of promise in his rookie year. A few more forced fumbles would be nice but those should come as the season progresses.
Linebackers, A: This is an unheralded group that doesn’t get enough credit. Quinton Coples is back from a fractured ankle and has fit in nicely with Demario Davis, David Harris and Calvin Pace.
Cornerbacks, F: Darrelle Revis isn’t walking through that door. Rookie Dee Milliner has already been benched due to poor play and Darrin Walls hasn’t stepped up much in his place. Antonio Cromartie isn’t 100 percent healthy and it shows. Kyle Wilson and company are yet to record an interception.
Safeties, B+: Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry are making all the tackles and doing the best they can to help out in pass coverage.
Kickers, B+: Nick Folk has been perfect on the season, making all eight of his field goal attempts. The lack of big punts from former punter Ryan Malone and his replacement, Ryan Quigley, knocks this grade down a bit.
Kick & Punt Returns, F: No long returns to speak of. They’ve had little to no impact thus far.
Coaching, B+: Head coach Rex Ryan is a defensive mastermind but also deserves credit for letting his rookie quarterback play through the mistakes. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has been aggressive in the passing attack but might want to dial it back a bit. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman has the defense looking sharp. Something must be done to cut down on all the penalty flags to push this grade even higher.
Overall, B: For all the talk about how bad the Jets were going to be, there have been quite a few positives in the early goings. With some tough games ahead, the team needs to start putting together consistent performances if they want to maintain this grade. It will be interesting to see who steps up and how the younger players progress over the next few weeks.